Sermon Illustrations

Let’s imagine a situation where a homeless man is begging on the streets of New York. A well dressed man in a long limousine pulls up next to him and offers him a job as vice-president of his company. You might say that is ridiculous; nothing like that would ever happen. But that is exactly what God has done for us. He rescued us from the gutter. We were homeless and he gave us a new home. We were the rejects of the world, but he gave us self respect. We had nothing, but he gave us everything. He asks us to be a part of his kingdom and work for it.

But, now, let’s say that the homeless man sneers at him and rejects the offer for several reasons. First, he will have to give up what is familiar to him. Obviously, it is a terrible life, but it is the only life he knows how to live. Secondly, he has a few possessions which he pushes around in a cart, and the few clothes he owns are on his back. And one of the conditions the man in the limousine makes is that the man must leave everything and get into the limousine. The third reason is that the man will actually have to work and accept responsibility. Life on the street was bad, but at least no one expected anything from him. No one expected him to be any different. So he turns from the man in the expensive suit and shuffles down the street hoping for a warm grate that he can sleep on for the night.

Does the man in the story understand what he has given up? He would have had a home, a job, a purpose, a great bank account, and a high position in an important business. But he passed it up to keep what he had. How foolish. This is why Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). Dallas Willard reminds us that if we are going to talk about the cost of discipleship, we ought to balance it by talking about the cost of non-discipleship.

Are you like the homeless man? When Christ comes to ask you to die to yourself and give up your old life, you refuse. You think about all the stuff in your cart that you will have to give up. You may be miserable, but at least you are used to it, and you know how to get by. You are not sure you would know what to do if you really died to your old life. Besides, you don’t...

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